Alex Chisholm to leave Cabinet Office in the spring

Permanent secretary and civil service chief operating officer will step down after four years at the department
Alex Chisholm. Photo: Cabinet Office

By Suzannah Brecknell

13 Nov 2023

Alex Chisholm has announced that he will step down as Cabinet Office permanent secretary and civil service chief operating officer in the Spring.

Chisholm joined the department in April 2020 after four years as permanent secretary of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said that Chisholm has “announced his decision not to seek a further term as chief operating officer for the Civil Service and Cabinet Office permanent secretary, and will leave the Cabinet Office at the end of his four year contract next spring".

“A recruitment process will begin shortly for his successor," they added.

As civil service chief operating officer Chisholm has helped to drive digital reform and promote better data literacy across government, as well as championing the Places for Growth agenda. Speaking to CSW earlier this year, Chisholm said the latter programme, which sees civil service roles relocated across the country to improve diversity and support growth, is what civil servants cite most often when he asks them what reforms have been successful.

Some 11,0000 jobs have moved out of the capital since 2020, and Chisholm suggested that new, more ambitious targets will likely follow.
“I think we might be victims of our success there and I expect that the appetite will go up in terms of the number of roles to be relocated,” he told CSW.

He also noted that despite working on a wide-ranging reform programme at a turbulent time, he has found his role at the Cabinet Office rewarding rather than stressful.

“Someone once defined stress to me as being asked to do things that you didn’t want to do. Pursuing a modernised, reformed civil service that works really well for ministers, civil servants and the public – that is what I want to do, so I don’t find that stressful," he said.

Prior to becoming BEIS perm sec. Chisholm was briefly perm sec of the Department for Energy and Climate Change and also ran the Competition and Markets Authority from 2013 to 2016.


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